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Fri 10th Jul 2020 - Update: The Restaurant Group, Great Portland Estate, The Gym Group
The Restaurant Group updates on banking facilities, pay cuts for directors and re-opening schedule: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has announced increased flexibility in its banking facilities and an update on board remuneration and estate reopening plans. The company has accessed £50m from the government CLBILS scheme, supported by Lloyds Banking Group. Having accessed the CLBILS scheme, TRG has agreed the following amendments under our Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) with our lenders: extended the term of the current RCF facility by six months to 30 June 2022; received a covenant waiver for December 2020 with covenants next tested at the end of June 2021; and reduced its commitments under the RCF by £40m. Therefore, overall, TRG has added an additional £10m to the group’s overall committed debt facilities. The company stated: “The executive directors and non-executive directors have volunteered to take a 20% reduction in their base salaries or fees while the business continues to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This follows on from the 40% reduction (20% for the chief financial officer) that was volunteered from 1 April 2020. As a result of recent corporate restructuring the revised trading portfolio of the group will comprise approximately 400 restaurants and pubs. The group has now started a phased reopening of its restaurants and pubs for eat-in trade in line with government guidance. We are very pleased to be able to welcome back our customers and colleagues ensuring that their safety is paramount, whilst maintaining an enjoyable experience. The diversified portfolio of the group allows each division to adapt to the challenges of social distancing uniquely, whilst keeping the customer at the heart of every decision. Our current reopening plans for the group are to have approximately: 25% of the total estate operational by the end of July; 60% by the end of August; and 90% by the end of September, with the reopening phasing varying by division. The remaining 10% of the estate is not expected to open this calendar year reflecting locations where footfall is anticipated to remain considerably weak (primarily in some airport locations). The group will next update the market at its Interim results on 6 October 2020.”

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Great Portland Estate reports 28% of rent paid by hospitality/leisure occupiers: Property landlord Great Portland Estates has reported 69% of June rent collected to date including amounts covered by rent deposits; 58% excluding deposits – 74% from offices; 28% from retail/hospitality/leisure sectors. 82% of March rent now collected including drawn deposits; 70% excluding deposits. Toby Courtauld, chief executive, said: “Whilst the lockdown has started to ease and our office pre-letting momentum remains healthy, covid-19 is disrupting the activities of many of our existing occupiers, which in some instances is impacting their ability to meet their rental payments. We continue to actively engage with all our stakeholders, in particular offering assistance to our occupiers, on a case by case basis to support them through this unprecedented time, and helping the communities in which we work through the deployment of our new community fund. Despite these challenging conditions, we are well positioned. Our leverage is low providing strength in these difficult markets with significant capacity for growth should opportunities emerge; our portfolio is almost fully let and our extensive development pipeline is set to deliver high quality, sustainable spaces that remain in high demand; this, combined with the talents of our experienced team and strong culture, means that we have the ability to choose our path to deliver on all our ambitions.”

The Gym Group reports 160 gyms to re-open on 25 July: The Gym Group, the nationwide operator of 179 low cost gyms, will re-open 160 sites across England on 25 July 2020. A further 13 sites in Scotland and 3 in Wales to follow as soon as possible after relevant local restrictions are lifted. The company stated: “Gyms will initially operate 6am to 10pm on weekdays and 8am to 8pm on weekends, enabling establishment of the new operating protocols within fully staffed hours. We will trial 24/7 in a small number of sites over the next few weeks and expect to return to 24/7 more widely within the next few months. In line with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport framework for operating gyms and leisure facilities safely, and after a review by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, we have put in place our #safewithus operating protocol. In the first few days after closing there were a significant number of cancellations, but this rate subsequently slowed considerably. As at 9 July 2020 we had 692,000 members (vs 870,000 on 18 March 2020) with an average age of 32. On the re-opening date of each gym, members’ monthly direct debits will automatically re-start; prior to the opening date all members will be offered the opportunity to continue the ‘free freeze’ option. Based on our internal research 92% of members are keen to return to The Gym.” Richard Darwin, chief executive of The Gym Group, said: “Opening safely is our primary concern and we have comprehensive plans in place for both our colleagues and members as we re-open our gyms. We are pleased to have been able to work with government and the rest of the health and fitness sector on how best to operate in a covid-secure way. Together with the government we recognise the significant benefits of exercise in improving the nation’s physical and mental well-being, particularly at this time as we respond to the pandemic. We are in the process of un-furloughing our colleagues, who will be ready to open the doors of our gyms in England on 25 July and in the other home nations once restrictions are lifted. We are encouraged by the response of our members, the vast majority of whom are keen to get back to the gym to begin working out again. We look forward to welcoming them back and being able to continue providing affordable fitness for all.”

Dalata secures debt facility amendment as it re-opens its 44 hotels: Dalata Hotel Group has agreed an amendment to the group’s debt facilities agreement with its banking partners providing additional financial strength and flexibility as the company reopens all of its 44 hotels. The company stated: “The revised Agreement provides additional flexibility to support the company as the business recovers from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. The previous covenants comprising net debt to Ebitda and interest cover will not be tested again until June 2022. These two covenants have been replaced, until that date, by a net debt to value covenant and a minimum liquidity test, whereby the company must have a minimum of €50 million available to it in cash and/or an unutilised amount of the revolving credit facility (RCF). Additionally, the RCF has been increased by €39 million to €364 million until September 2022 as part of the agreement. The company has now reopened 42 of its hotels in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and England to the public. Two final hotels, the Clayton Hotel Cardiff and the Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport are expected to reopen on 11 July and 1 August respectively. Although it is too early to comment on the outlook for the remainder of the year, the pace of bookings over the last week has been encouraging. Over the past few months, the company has invested significant time and resources planning for how the hotels can reopen for guests and employees. The introduction of the Dalata Keep Safe Programme across all hotels, comprising advanced sanitisation procedures, new technologies, and effective physical distancing measures, has been well received by our corporate and leisure guests, employees and suppliers. Government restrictions necessitated the closure of most construction sites during the covid-19 lockdown. Although all construction sites have since reopened, there will be a delay to the pipeline opening dates. Dalata now expects the Maldron Hotel Glasgow to open towards the end of Q1 2021 and The Samuel in Dublin will follow in mid-2021. The hotels in Manchester (x2), Clayton Hotel Bristol, Clayton Hotel Glasgow and Maldron Hotel Merrion Road in Dublin are now projected to open in Q1 2022. The extension at Clayton Hotel Birmingham will however open earlier than expected in November 2020. The company does not have firm timelines for the remaining pipeline projects that have not commenced construction and the opening dates for these projects are under review.”

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